Enjoy the December edition of the West River Catholic.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, and Bishop Robert Gruss, Rapid City, in the sacristy of Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi before Mass. A group of 32 people from the Diocese of Rapid City made a pilgrimage to Rome to attend the consistory. (Courtesy photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s 17 new cardinals must dedicate their lives to being ministers of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world — and sometimes a church — often marked by hostility and division, Pope Francis said. Even Catholics are not immune from “the virus of polarization and animosity,” the pope told the new cardinals, and “we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts.” Creating 17 new cardinals from 14 nations Nov. 19, the pope said the College of Cardinals — and the Catholic Church itself — must be a sign for the world that differences of nationality, skin color, language and social class do not make people enemies, but brothers and sisters with different gifts to offer. Three of the new cardinals created during the prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica were from the United States: Cardinals Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Joseph W. Tobin, whom the pope asked to move from being archbishop of Indianapolis to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey. Only 16 of the new cardinals were present for the ceremony. The Vatican said 87-year-old Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai, the retired bishop of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, was created a cardinal although he was unable to travel to Rome.
Rapid City Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Outlet in Box Elder, Dec. 1. Store manager Andrew Shepard used giant gold scissor for the occasion. (WRC story and photo by Laurie Hallstrom)
A Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony was held Dec. 1, for the St. Vincent de Paul Conference Thrift Outlet in Box Elder. Following the success of the SVDP Thrift Store in Spearfish, the society opened the outlet store. The location is 640 Box Elder Rd. W., Box Elder. (Coming from Rapid City, at I-90 exit 63, take the first left turn, about one block from the interstate.)
The outlet store is unique place to shop because everything, except furniture and mattresses, is sold by the pound. According to JoBeth Meyer, executive director for Store Development, opening day prices for clothing and other goods were 99-cents per pound. The regular rate is $1.49. Check Facebook for specials.
The store carries low cost mattresses are individually priced. The mattresses are stripped to the springs and recovered in Chicago, Ill; however, the thrift outlet cannot accept mattresses as donations in this area. The mattresses and box springs range from $150 to $249 for double pillow top set. Full sets are $200, Queen sets $250 and King sets $395, and bed frames start at $39.95. Meyer said, “For the month of December, mattresses are 25 percent off these low prices to celebrate the Christmas Season and our grand opening. Delivery is available for $20 extra.”
The store is accepting donations of clothing and household items. Since there is no washer on site, the store personnel appreciate having clothes washed before donating. To have furniture or large items picked up call 605-791-0707. Store hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Also, the store does not accept electronics more than five-years old. Video tapes, CDs, DVDs and records go for 50 cents each. Donations of canned and boxed foods are given out on Vincentian home visits to people in need.
The thrift outlet operates with a combination of paid workers and volunteers. It has created employment opportunities in Box Elder. Proceeds from the Spearfish and Box Elder stores help fund SVDP outreach.
“We are very close to having given out $100,000 of assistance since May 2016 between the three conferences (located at Rapid City Cathedral, Piedmont and Spearfish-Belle Fourche-Newell.) Each conference does fundraising and receives cash donations as well as funds from the stores. The need seems to be especially great this holiday season and we are in need of both cash donations and goods,” said Meyer.
She said the SVDP stores are a great place to use conference vouchers. “The conferences will help a friend with a voucher to get the household items and clothing they need. Because our prices are so low a friend can get a lot for even just $25,” she said.
There are plans to open more stores in the area.
Rick Soulek, Rapid City, has been hired as the new Chief Finance Officer for the Diocese of Rapid City. He graduated from Wagner Community School, Wagner. Soulek earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in 1986. Also at USD, he earned his MBA in 1991. Soulek has experience in finance, operations and management. He began serving the diocese Dec. 1. He and his wife, Lynn, are members of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Rapid City.
Jenny Scherr, Piedmont; Randy Vette, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Jake Davis, Rapid City; and Father Mark McCormick, director of Vocations and Stewardship; pose for a photo before lunch with students at St. Thomas More High school, December 8. The four are part of the Outreach Team focused on entering into the lives of high school students and loving them where they are at. “The goal is to build genuine relationships that will allow us to mentor young people in the faith by simply being a presence,” explained Vette. “This idea for the team came from a desire to work with high school students in the best, most fruitful way possible. Jesus showed us how; we simply desire to imitate Christ and his love. He didn’t wait for us to come to him, but first took on flesh and came to be with us. We believe that is the model youth ministry should follow. There is great potential with this new ministry and a lot of students we can be a joyful witness to.” After a weekend of attending basketball games, the team went back to the school to have lunch on December 14. “STM has been very welcoming to us. I look forward to getting to know the kids,” Scherr added. The team also includes Jackie Kuhn and Jordan Miller, both of Rapid City. (WRC photo)
Nativity (A Retreat for Christmas) by Fr. Mark Toups
“Nativity is a resource you can use to go on retreat in the midst of your busy life. People go on retreat all the time. People go on lots of different retreats. Some retreats are at monasteries, others are at retreat centers, and still others are at churches. Regardless of when or where, retreat is essentially a time in a person’s life where they commit to being present to God—to pray, to listen, and to receive.”
This past year, while I was in filling in at Our Lady of the Black Hills, Piedmont, Deacon John and Joni Osnes invited me to be part of their Sunday adult faith formation class after Mass. They were studying “The Disciple as Steward” by Sharon Hueckel, which is a six-week, small group study based on the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship titled, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.”
One of the questions that was asked was, “Who am I?” As we went around the room, the answers to that question went something like this: I am an engineer, I am a mother, I am a dad, and I am a teacher.
Jacque Osnes, a college student, surprised us all when she said, “First, I am a child of God. That is who I am, first and foremost a child of God.”
Wow, what a great answer. I wished I would have come up with that: “First, I am a child of God. That is who I am, first and foremost a child of God.”
The answer to the question of “Who am I?” is not about what we do or even what we possess or own, but the truth is found in answering another question: “Whose we are?”
Jacque was right; first and foremost we are children of God. Through our baptism in Christ we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God the Father; we
become partakers of his divine nature and we are temples of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1265). What defines us a person is the fact that we have been made in the image and likeness of God, and because of that we are called to love, know and serve him.
Fr. Paul Hoesing, in his pamphlet on prayer, Have I Been With You? Personal Prayer For Young Disciples, says, “Our relationship gives us an identity, and our identity gives us a mission. What we do (our mission) flows from our identity (who we are), and who we are begins with our hearts in communion with Jesus.” Fr. Paul is emphasizing three key words in his description of who we are: Relationship — Identity – Mission (RIM).
Relationship — Identity – Mission is rooted in the vine and branches passage in Jn 15:4, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
However, we often get this ordering reversed by putting mission first, then identity and lastly relationship. When we put mission first, it is easy to lose our way and our identity because our focus and gaze is not on Christ, but rather on the mission and on ourselves.
When we get this upside down, the mission inevitably takes up all of our time and energy, and in the end we have no time for a personal relationship with Christ. It is much easier and less challenging for us to focus on the mission rather than on our relationship and identity with Jesus.
Let’s face it: being people of prayer is difficult because it requires us to be disciplined and to have a spirit of constancy in our lives when it comes to giving time to building and maintaining a personal intimacy with the Lord.
This is why in our diocesan priority plan prayer is our first core value. Bishop Robert Gruss indicates, “Prayer is listed first
because it provides us a secure foundation” as we read in the story of the wise and foolish builders in Lk 6:46 -49.
Since March, we have been focusing on the second lens of our stewardship initiative lively faith: prayer, study and formation. Both Msgr. Thomas Richter at Pastoral Ministry Days and Jim Beckman at the Stewardship Summit focused on RIM: Relationship — Identity – Mission in their talks. Msgr. Richter describes RIM in the
context of the experience of Jesus’ life:
“Relationship with the Father for 30 years, then at Jesus’ baptism the Father proclaims his Identity, ‘This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.’ Then the Spirit sends Jesus on Mission.”
I encourage you to go to our diocesan webpage and listen to both Msgr. Richter’s and Jim Beckman’s talks on lively faith. (Msgr. Richter) http://rapid
resources;and (Jim Beckman) http://rapidcitydiocese.org/stewardship or you can download them to your smart phone as an audio file. (Podcast) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI , while speaking to a gathering of young people at Westminster Cathedral, sums up the theme of RIM in this way: “This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with him and to hear his voice. Deep within your heart, God is calling you to spend time with him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day. Often it means waiting for the Lord to speak. Even amid the business and stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in the silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for building up his church and the redemption of our world.”
With the Advent/Christmas seasons upon us, spend some time in re-examining your relationship with Christ, who first gives us our identity as beloved sons and daughters of the Father and then sends us out on mission through the Holy Spirit to bear abundant fruit in his name.
The symbols of Christmas speak a language which we all understand. Pope Francis reminds us, “The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are symbols of God’s love and hope, reminding us to contemplate the beauty of creation and welcome the marginalized. The cribs set up in churches, in homes and in so many public places are also an invitation to make room in our life and in society for God, hidden in the faces of many persons who are in conditions of hardship, of poverty and of tribulation.”
As we have listened to the readings of Advent and look forward to the readings of Christmas, we can see that they speak of a new era, one of peace and tranquility — a new dawn breaking upon the world. This message is meant to fill the world with hope, with deep longings fulfilled, thereby diminishing the anxiety and fear experienced by many people in this country and throughout the world.
Emmanuel, God Is with Us, brings new promise. The Messiah has come to deliver people from their suffering and affliction. The promise has been realized. This is the gift of Christmas. This is what we celebrate these days.
But perhaps not for everyone. The threat of deportation among the undocumented in this country, and even worse the threat of death for being Christian in the Middle East, brings severe angst among many populations. The mystery of Christmas for them may seem to be a hidden reality.
As I sit to write this column, the sad news has come across the Internet of a bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral killing 25 people and wounding another 49, mostly women and children, during a Sunday Mass. One cannot imagine the pain and suffering felt by Egyptians in the aftermath of such barbarism. But this is not an isolated incident. My heart goes out to the people of Cairo and all across Egypt. We must not forget the people of Iraq and Syria as well, for so many of them have similar experiences.
The fact is that the persecution of religious believers has become an increasingly tragic situation all across the world. People of all religious denominations, including Muslims and Jews, are facing the wrath of persecution. But Evangelical Protestants and Catholics have especially become targets of terrorism initiated by evil authorities who are often motivated by anti-Western, anti-democratic ideologies and who feel threatened by Christian faith and worship.
Pope Francis, in a homily in June 2014, said that “there are more martyrs in the Church today than in the first centuries.” After an additional two years, the evidence bears this out even more. Little has been done by the United States government in terms of speaking out against these terrors of religious persecution. Perhaps as a Christian nation we have failed to do all within our power to alleviate the suffering of those persecuted. This should concern all of us.
We might think, “what can I do?” We can be in solidarity with those who have been displaced from their homelands because of persecution through prayer and support. As I wrote in my Pastoral Letter, “To be in solidarity with others is to see them as God sees them, to love them as God loves them, and to sacrifice for them as Christ has sacrificed for them. United together, we are the Body of Christ. Every time we neglect others in the Body, the whole Body suffers (cf. 1 Cor 12:26). When we live in solidarity and charity, the Body of Christ is built up, there is communion, and the Kingdom of God is made manifest.”
We are often are afraid of people who are different from us. Fear hardens our hearts and creates binders on our eyes. But when looking at this situation with our eyes open, not living in fear but in solidarity and love, we will see their plight as an opportunity to be messengers of Christmas peace and hope. Then blindness and indifference will be transformed into solidarity and love.
In gathering with family and friends to celebrate this great feast of Emmanuel, God Is With Us, don’t forget to include the suffering and persecuted of the world in your prayers, in your conversations and in your generosity. These are simple ways in which we can be in solidarity with these brothers and sisters. May your Christmas be filled with very grace and blessing!